YES YES Y'ALL: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-Hop: The First Decade

Nelson George, Author, Jim Fricke, Editor, Charlie Ahearn, Editor . Da Capo $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-306-81184-5

Based on the "Hip-Hop Nation" exhibit at Seattle's Experience Music Project and the project's ongoing Oral History Program, this history of the beginnings of hip-hop in 1970s New York City is a lavishly illustrated and lovingly compiled homage to the many artists who contributed to the birth of what soon became—and remains today, more than 25 years later—a worldwide cultural institution. Editors Fricke and Ahearn (director of the hip-hop film Wild Style) weave the insights and attitudes of nearly 100 of the key players into a multihued and multiracial tapestry that illustrates what the excitement of that era and its music was all about. Since the hip-hop style was first developed in the Bronx borough of New York City as a dance-floor alternative to the then-prominent "disco" sound, the oral narrative is dominated by the voices of well-known DJs: Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. But much of the success of the book is derived from its exploration of the roots of other related hip-hop trends: how the massive new styles of graffiti were both a response to urban violence as well as a way to provoke the interest of downtown New York avant-garde artists; how the competitive world of break dancing was rooted in the rapidly changing and fading gang culture of the Bronx; and how many women were far more active and influential in all types of hip-hop styles than was obvious or recognized at the time. This is an excellent documentation of how early hip-hop expressed "a balance between pain and the celebration of music and movements." (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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